Music is a funny thing – it has this incredible power of bringing strangers together. And if right people meet, soon the word will spread around of another great band on the circuit. So, when our vast network of international spies (read other A&Rs) alerted us one day of a band from Hamburg that was catching a lot of attention, we had to investigate. Especially if a former bass player from Manuka Hive was involved. Few notes exchanged here and there and one email mishap later, we got in touch with The Kecks to discuss their new single, touring Germany and the state of music in the UK. But we found much more than just another band with potential. This four piece has passion, drive and artistic vision to take them a long way. Please meet “that band” that everybody keeps talking about these days.
The Kecks are:
Lennart Uschmann (vox)
Samuel Telford (guitar/vox)
Corentin Neyran (drums)
Joel Phillips (bass)
Official bio: The Kecks have rapidly established a reputation as an enigmatic must-see live act after only completing their lineup in October 2018 after a chance encounter on board a Berlin bound Flixbus to see The Growlers.
After throwing raucous bunker parties in their rehearsal room and several other Guerilla gigs, a buzz is beginning to bubble – culminating in two consecutive sold out shows at the renowned Astra Stube and European dates already in the calendar for 2019.
Drawing from a wide range of influences, not least the Australian, French, Austrian/German, and British nationality of its members – The Kecks offer a fresh and exciting take on guitar music. Delivering sophisticated yet spikey tunes that are expansive in ambition but remain authentic and raw by nature.
The Kecks have earned themselves a reputation playing guerrilla gigs and throwing parties in a bunker. Also each member comes from a different country. Please introduce yourselves to the readers of Indieterria.
The Kecks: Hello! We are The Kecks from Hamburg! We have Sam on guitar shipped in directly from Australia, Lennart on vocals originating from Austria, Dragon is our sophisticated French stallion on drums and we’ve got Joel from the deepest darkest north of England on bass.
Lennart Uschmann: Dragon does have a real French name, Corentin. But none of us could pronounce it so we just christened him Dragon and it’s stuck. He even refers to himself as Dragon now!
There is a story about the band that we would love to confirm – is it true that you all met onboard a coach bus on a way to a gig? It`s such a perfect rock and roll story, it almost feels too good to be true.
Sam Telford: (laughing) Yeah, that one is completely true. Me, Lennart and Dragon had been jamming for a little while and getting ideas together but we needed a bass player to complete the line-up and push things forward. That’s when we bumped into this loose unit on the Flix Bus to Berlin to see The Growlers.
Joel Phillips: (also laughing) It was one of my first days in Hamburg actually! I was feeling a little unsure of myself so was having a beer at 10 am waiting for the bus to Berlin and everyone knows that nothing has more of a hypnotic pull to a Australian than a beer and a mullet. I drew Sam in like a moth to a flame. We spent the next three hours on the bus talking music and the rest is history.
You have recorded BBC Introducing session at the Tonhotel in Hamburg. Two songs from that session “Paris” and “Tonight Might Be Different” have been played on BBC Sheffield. Please tell us more about this particular session. Tonhotel is a cult studio and rehearsal space in Hamburg, quite similar to Magic Garden in Wolverhampton. You worked with Gerd Mauff, is that correct?
Corentin Neyran: That was an awesome experience recording the tracks live with Gerd. It was something that all came together a bit last minute and he was very accommodating and did not mind burning the midnight oil with us. He is just a really good guy who is totally into the music and not just there to take a pay check. He has loads of lovely vintage equipment which we were like kids in a sweet shot getting to play with. The studio itself is just a cool old German style house on a suburban street, walking past you would never even notice it amongst a quiet street. Once you get inside though the place has been completely converted into a super homely feeling musical heaven. We immediately felt relaxed and at home.
Your debut single “Stick In My Throat” is scheduled to come out on June 21st – please tell us something about this song. What`s the inspiration behind it?
Lennart Uschmann: We recorded the single at London’s vibey Buffalo Studios With Jean Baptiste Pilon. He was a joy to work with, he just totally got what we were about and what we were trying to do. He was totally into trying weird stuff and experimenting and was totally invested in the project. We even managed to get some omnichord on there which we found at the bottom of a storage box in the studio. Jean Baptiste introduced us to Giovanni Versari (Muse, Nic Cester) of La Maestà studio In Tredozio, Italy who did a wicked job mastering it.
Sam Telford: We just wanted to write something to really set our stall out and leave an impression of what we are about. It’s about those times when a loved one is trying to fight with you but you just don’t want anything to do with the conversation. That burning frustration you get inside when you just want to be left alone. I think we’ve all been there!
The single will be released via AWAL, rather than a regular label. Weren`t you tempted to get signed?
Joel Phillips: It would always be nice to have somebody else picking up the bill for the studio but we are very specific about what we want to do and how we want to sound and don’t want to have to compromise that at all. I think at this stage we have still got to go out and prove ourselves and what we can do off our own back before anyone significant would come on board anyway. The reality in 2019 is that you don’t need a label to get your music out there so if you truly believe in what you are doing, just do it yourself.
“Stick In My Throat” has already received radio airplay on BBC Introducing and Amazing Radio and gathered rave reviews from veteran DJs such as Jim Gellatly. We have heard the single and quietly expect it to become a significant release on indie circuit this year. What are you hoping to achieve with this song?
Sam Telford: It’s our debut release so we just wanted it to be a bit of a cock punch really and get into as many ears as possible. You only get once chance to make a first impression so we are just aiming to give everyone a proverbial “kicks in the nuts” and make our way into as many people’s earholes as possible. Nobody has heard us yet so we really appreciate people like yourselves giving us a platform.
Is there a chance that your debut single receives a physical release? The cover is amazing and would make an incredible record to own. Who is responsible for the sleeve design?
Lennart Uschmann: Physical release is definitely something we would like to do at some point, it is a bit of a musician`s wet dream to stand and hold your own physical vinyl in your hand so we would certainly love to do it in future. Carlos Andres who also directed our debut video was responsible for the artwork, he is a total wizard. All of our graphics stuff has either been created by Carlos or Sam.
You have recently finished a video that will promote your debut release. It was directed by a close friend of the band – Carlos Andres. Do you have any date chosen for the premiere of the video?
Joel Phillips: Yes, Carlos “Mexi Kravitz” Andres is actually my flat mate. The guy is on another level with anything when it comes to visuals and a total pleasure to work with. It’s just like friends hanging out really. We are always helping each other out with various schemes and projects and it’s a really great dynamic to have. It also brings in another nationality into a weird little dysfunctional cross continental family as he is Mexican so another set of outside influences and ideas to the group.
You completed a short tour of Germany supporting Peter Perrett. Is there any chance to see you play shows in the UK?
Corentin Neyran: We are coming to the UK next month actually for a short run of shows around Tramlines Festival! A lot of our influence comes from historic British Rock ‘n’ Roll and the culture around it so it seems to make sense that our music feels most at home here. We are also in talks with This Feeling about doing a more comprehensive run later in the year, so we will be coming to the UK pretty often for sure.
Lennart Uschmann: The experience of touring with Peter was great, as it gave us our first opportunity to get out and play around Germany. It was important for us to be able to get out and play in these new cities and see how people react to nothing but the music and your performance, as they have no preconceived ideas about who or what you are. Opinions are formed right before your eyes and it was a real confidence booster to be so well received. Peter is a genuine legend who has seen it all and he had some unbelievable stories to tell and we will forever be grateful to him, his team, X-Ray Touring and FKP Scorpio for our first proper touring opportunity.
Being based in Germany gives you a much broader understanding of indie circuit. Looking from the outside on what is happening in the UK – how do you see music scene in Brexitland?
Joel Phillips: I suppose I have a bit of an advantage here as I only left the UK less than 12 months ago but from what I can see it’s never been healthier. You’ve got bands like The Blinders selling out huge venues. Calva Louise, Strange Bones, Yak all making serious inroads in the UK and in Europe. It’s all still painfully ignored by the mainstream but all of the shit around Brexit and Trump has created a whole new generation of angry youths with guitars and something to say which is a beautiful thing.
The best for the last (question): Let’s say that you can commission any company in the world to create the perfect equipment for you. What are you getting? New guitars? New drum kit? Amps?
Sam Telford: That would have to be me on this one and working with Earthquaker Devices on some super weird and wonderful guitar pedals! Again, I think we were inspired by seeing Kirin J Callinan open for The Growlers in Berlin and he blew our minds with his crazy guitar tones and performance. He had a whole horseshoe of pedals and effects and since then we have been all about weird pedals and making the guitar sound like a synth or a siren or something extra-terrestrial so the dream would be to work with those guys to make a Kecky Bois Supreme pedal that would just instantly melt your brain with far out tones!
You can see The Kecks live on these days next month:
19th July – Vintage Rockbar, Doncaster UK Event Page (free entry)
20th July – Tramlines Festival, Sheffield UK Event Page
You can follow the band on socials:
Follow Carlos Andres here:
And as usual a bit of extra reading for your pleasures:
We will monitoring this band and hopefully will have many good things to report about them and their achievements.